Do I need a Business Plan? Why? These are questions I’m consistently asked by new entrepreneurs, experienced business owners, and even leaders within large organizations.
More often than not, they either have no idea how to create one, or they’ve done it before, checked the box, and promptly placed the plan on a shelf to collect dust. Why do strategic business plans sit on the shelf? Because leaders lack discipline and confidence. Yes, you heard me right. It’s not the plan that fails, it’s the people behind the plan. What good is a business plan if it’s not implemented?
“The next level of business requires the next level of discipline and confidence.”
~Jim Horan, author of The One Page Business Plan™
I’ve worked with Jim Horan personally for years, and his book, The One Page Business Plan™ was named in the top 10 Start Your Own Business books of 2015 by Inc. Magazine. Having used his tools and teachings with hundreds of clients across many industries, I’ve determined a few reasons as to why the dust-catching plans still exist.
3 Reasons Strategic Business Plans Sit On The Shelf
Leaders do not commit, neither to the discipline required nor to developing the confidence necessary for success.
To take your business or team to the next level, it demands a big commitment. You need to commit to doing some things differently. It needs to ‘feel’ different to everyone. You will be requiring some change in behaviors. If you aren’t asking for different behaviors, then you will get the same results of the past.
To drive those kinds of results, you need a commitment to Discipline with a capital D. A new strategic plan requires change. Change is hard. It’s like pushing a boulder uphill. The change won’t take hold until you reach the top and the boulder rolls down the other side. Change sticks when it is more painful to go back to the old way than it is to maintain the changed behavior. You need the Discipline to keep pushing, step-by-step, steady, and consistent, as you push the boulder of change up the hill. If you falter, the boulder will roll back to the original location, and everything will go back to the way it was.
If you are going to take the time to develop a strategic business plan, you need to commit to the Discipline that it will take to implement the plan. As the leader, you are the one that needs to set that tone and example.
What does that discipline look like? Here are some ideas:
- Communication of the business plan to everyone in the organization
- Outlining clear expectations of each team member
- Frequent measurements and reporting of progress
- Holding team members accountable, fairly and consistently
- Showing up and being present
- Consistent reference to the plans, vision, and objectives
- Consistent action by all leaders to show alignment with the business plan
Growing a business has never been described as easy. It takes hard work, focus, and tenacity. Discipline will help you take performance to the next level.
In the book Good to Great, by Jim Collins, a culture of discipline is described as:
- Freedom and responsibility within a framework.
- Filled with self-disciplined people who will go to extreme lengths to perform.
- Not to be confused with a tyrannical disciplinarian.
“A culture of discipline is about getting disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who then take disciplined action.”
Confidence goes hand in hand with Discipline. Most leaders give up too easily when Discipline fails, and their inner voices of failure take over. A beautiful business plan can give you a wonderful feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, yet if you don’t have the belief in what’s captured on the page, you’ll never get beyond your self-doubt.
Do you believe in your vision statement? If your communications and actions don’t support that vision, no one else will either.
Think about how you’ve created confidence for yourself in the past. When you learned to ride a bike, you rode with confidence after many hours of practice, right? It’s no different in business. You have to practice.
One exercise that I suggest for many of my clients is to practice a presentation or even a conversation in front of a mirror. Ask yourself, “Do I believe that person in the mirror talking back to me?” If not, keep practicing until you do.
Leaders don’t involve their team in developing the Strategic Business Plan.
I’m not sure what business or leadership books these types of leaders read, but I’ve never read or heard that good leadership involves doing it all yourself and not regularly communicating, meeting with, and developing relationships with those that support you.
Many leaders try to do it all themselves. Either they don’t think their team is knowledgeable enough, or they are afraid they won’t be seen as capable leaders themselves if they ask for help. Good leaders surround themselves with people who are more experienced, more intelligent and utilize them frequently to help solve the business problems they face. This way of operating may be seen by some leaders as being more vulnerable.
Brene’ Brown says it best in her TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability.
Being vulnerable and tapping into the talent that surrounds you cannot only be beneficial, but it can also be enormously synergistic.
Stephen Covey relates to this as well in his book Principle Centered Leadership in the Chapter—‘Involving People in the Problem’.
“Enlightened leaders and business managers throughout the world have used this simple principle in one way or another for many years. They know that when people are meaningfully involved, they willingly omit the best that is in them. Moreover, when people identify their personal goals with the goals of an organization they release an enormous amount of energy, creativity, and loyalty.”
Leaders don’t succinctly define what it is that they are trying to build.
Whether you are building a company, a business, or even a team, having a clear vision of what success looks like, and communicating it, is essential in your success. Everyone is building something.
The key to defining this is to describe what you’re building succinctly without taking two pages to describe it. You can achieve this by asking yourself some very pointed questions
What type of business are you building?
Which markets do you serve?
What’s your geographic scope?
Where will be located?
Who are your target customers?
These are just a few of the many questions that you should be asking to communicate clearly what you are trying to build and what your vision of the future will be in the next one, three or five years.
An example vision statement would be:
In the next 3 years, grow XYZ Technologies into a 100 million dollar international wireless technology solutions provider, capable of designing, building, and hosting leading-edge wireless products and networks, throughout North and South America for organizations with at least 500 employees.
It’s short, succinct, and answers the questions of who you are serving, the geographic target, your ideal customers, your desired financial metrics, and what kinds of products you offer.
And most importantly this kind of vision statement needs to be shared with the organization over and over again so that everyone can align and internalize the target and determine their role in getting there.
Are you overwhelmed? Don’t be.
There are valuable tools available to you to counteract these three reasons and get your business on track to sustainable growth. The most effective tool is The One Page Business Plan™.
The One Page Business Plan™
If you are completely happy with where your business is today, and you have no desire to grow, then maybe you can skip this strategic planning stuff. Although, I would suggest that a plan to maintain the status quo is still critical with the amount of competition in the business world today. So, I’m not sure there is any excuse for NOT creating your strategic plan.
“All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If we want different results, we must change the way we do things.”
~Tom Northup, Leadership Management Group
Are you happy with the results you are getting from your business or your team? If not, we need to talk.
Jim Horan, the author of The One Page Business Plan™, believes one of the major oversights in business in the last 30 years is the failure of management to ask the average manager, professional and/or employee to WRITE a plan for their job, department, project, program, and/or their function. Sr. executives have always been required to write “strategic plans”, why not everyone else?
Also, holding people accountable is one of the constant struggles for any business. How better to hold your people accountable, if not with a plan that they’ve developed and agreed to?
The foundation of The One Page Business Plan™ is the belief that everyone should be able to develop a plan answering the following 5 questions. (And it will all be on one page!)
- What are you building? Describe what your department, program, project, function, business unit, division, profit center, or company will look like in 1, 3, 5, or 10 years.
- Why do you exist? What purpose does your department, program, product, project, or function serve? Who do you serve and what want, need, desire or pain do they want you to solve?
- What will make your department, program, or product successful overtime?
- What is the work to be done?
- How will you measure success?
Companies using this One Page Methodology include Ford Motor Company, McKesson, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Equitable Life Insurance, Drake Beam Morin and the list grows each month.
The One Page Business Plan™ also includes a web-based planning and performance application built around this highly successful tool. Take a tour at www.onepagebusinessplan.com.
“We believe the future is not only dependent on but requires a significantly higher contribution from the entire workforce. We believe that contribution will come when the average manager, professional, and employee is truly invited to fully contribute and then coached along the way until they are successful. Success is not an accident. It always starts with a plan.”
Jim Horan, author of The One Page Business Plan™
Contact me if you’re interested in developing your One Page Business Plan™, and the discipline and confidence to leap the growth of your company over several levels!
To read more from Core Impact Coaching sign up here.